Clare Pinchbeck owns and runs Hettie’s Tearoom, a charming tearoom in
Pitlochry and an online tea shop and bakery takeaway in Dunkeld, both
in Highland Perthshire.
Clare Pinchbeck opened Hettie’s Tearoom in Pitlochry in 2010.
Named after her daughter Henrietta, it has since expanded to include an
online tea shop and a bakery and takeaway in Dunkeld. Hettie’s offers over 30 exclusive, house-blended teas and micro-roasted and started out with a vision to be the happiest tea room in the world where every customer leaves happier than when they walked in.
The enterprise journey
Hettie’s Tearoom has become a global purveyor of loose leaf tea blended in Scotland and in 2018 branched out into coffee, selling directly to customers after investing a four-figure sum in a coffee roaster.
Clare says that she sees herself more as a business owner than a lady who runs a tea room, and that reaching business milestones are what she enjoys most. She says: “It makes me very proud when we hit our goals, grow our turnover - which we have done every year - or even get the VAT return done on time.”
Financial support has been key to the growth of the business. Clare said that after they had raised funding to buy the Dunkeld bakery they “ran out” of mainstream sources of funding. However, when she was at an event run by community-based enterprise support organisation GrowBiz event she met the fund director from *BE Group Debt Finance Scotland. She spoke to him and gave him a summary of the business and he said that it was exactly the growth activity that the fund and Scottish Government are looking for.
Clare explained: “The BE Group Debt Finance Scotland business loan will help us fast-track our growth projects, which includes the development of the online tea business, a re-brand of our products, and financing equipment to increase our menu and improve service.
“The fund director really got behind our business and even encouraged me to go for more funding to help me realise all the growth plans I have. When you speak to bankers, all they see is risk, not potential. His interest in my business was to help me grow it and that was like a breath of fresh air. That kind of experience is quite rare, it almost felt as though they were personally investing in me which gave me a lot of confidence and changes your mind set as a business owner.”
Clare added: “I used to assess the impact of all my growth projects only in profit and loss and cashflow reports and didn’t look at the balance sheet figure at the end. Now I run everything I do through the balance sheet as well and actually see the value going into the business as a whole.”
Looking to the future
Clare has great ambitions to expand the brand and open more premises in the future, but says that the real growth of the business is the teas. She says that this side of the business grows quite organically without requiring a lot of overhead and within five years believes the revenue of the online sales will match that of the tea room.
She believes in taking a small amount of risk and investing in your business to get it to where you want it to be more quickly than relying on incremental growth. However, she stresses that you need “a firm foundation to build on, a real vision for the growth and to have done your homework” to achieve that.
For more information see www.hettiesteas.co.uk
*Note change of company name to UMi Debt Finance Scotland